#CyberFLASH: Internet firms play coy on how they share info with police, government

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OTTAWA — Internet companies have hung up on a call by privacy advocates to reveal the extent to which they share subscriber information with police, security services and government.

The Citizen Lab at Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs reported Thursday that Canada’s most prominent Internet service providers have largely dismissed its requests to publicly explain the nature, scope and circumstances of demands by state agencies for private customer data.

The lab, joined by a dozen leading Canadian Internet and privacy academics and civil rights organizations, sent letters in January to 16 Internet and phone companies asking how often, when and why they disclose private and personal information to state agents.

Ten companies replied, but generally avoided or refused to respond to the specific questions put to them, said Christopher Parsons, a post-doctoral fellow at the lab who organized the campaign.

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